Medical transcription? Outsourcing can reduce costs and improve quality

Want to organize doctors’ handwritten notes and prescriptions into electronic documents without spending a fortune? An outsourced medical transcription service is the perfect solution for you.

All medical institutions require computerization of medical notes for clean and compact records, insurance claims processing, quick reference, conferences and various other reasons. Hospitals and clinics have long hired full-time transcriptionists to do the same. However, this is an expensive option and not the ideal solution if you have different transcription volumes. Alternatively, you can delegate transcription tasks to other office workers or use speech recognition software. However, these solutions can be quite inaccurate and jeopardize the health of your patients. Your office staff may not be well trained in medical transcription, and speech recognition accuracy is usually too low to be useful. A medical transcription service gives you the best combination of cost, quality and accuracy.

How does a medical transcription service work?

  • Doctors dictate their notes into a recording device, usually a toll-free phone line or a portable digital recorder. Most medical transcription services support both methods. Some services also accept pre-recorded cassettes. MP3 is the preferred audio format when using digital recorders, although other formats can be used.
  • The recorded information is then sent to the medical transcription service provider. Information security during transmission is of crucial importance. The personal data of your patients must not be disclosed at any price. Digital recordings are submitted via the Internet. This can be done via a secure website and file transfer protocol (FTP) using custom software from the provider, or even via encrypted email. With a toll-free line, the information is stored directly on the providers’ servers.
  • The recorded notes are then transcribed and sent back to the hospital or clinic. Information is typically returned as Word files, although other formats such as PDF can also be specified. Delivery methods include secure websites, FTP, custom software, encrypted email, and in some cases, fax.
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More comprehensive medical transcription services are also available. They offer an online system that stores both the audio files and the transcripts, organizes them by date, doctor or patient, and tracks progress throughout the transcription. These services are more expensive but offer significant management benefits.

Important Considerations

Accuracy: The returned work must be close to 100 percent accurate. Choose a medical transcription service that employs experienced and qualified medical transcriptionists and quality assurance professionals who will review transcripts before they deliver them to you. Your physicians should review and evaluate each transcript at delivery to avoid harm to your patients’ health and well-being.

change of sides: It refers to the maximum time within which medical transcripts will be delivered to you after submission of the audio recordings. Most medical transcription services offer a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours. Most also include a STAT service that allows you to specify a one, two, or four hour turnaround time for an additional fee. Different types of notes may have different turnaround times.

Security: Medical transcription services are subject to HIPAA patient confidentiality rules. The industry standard for internet security is 128-bit SSL security. Physical security at the provider’s location is also important. Careful screening and tracking of employees is essential. Audit trails can help in tracking employees. An audit trail tracks each individual who accesses a specific set of notes and the changes they make.

Sound quality: Good quality audio recording is essential for performance. Handheld digital recorders offer better sound but come with additional hardware costs. Some medical transcription services charge lower prices if you provide them with better quality recordings.

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Duty location: Many medical transcription services employ both local and international transcriptionists. There is generally no difference in quality and accuracy between the domestic and outsourced services. With transcription teams located around the world, service providers can meet deadlines. You’ll be happy to pay more for the service if you insist on hiring medical transcriptionists in a developed country like the US.

How much do you have to pay?

Billing is per line of text. The industry standard is 65 characters on a single line including spaces. However, some service providers fit fewer characters on a single line. The price is usually between $0.05 and $0.20 per line. Before hiring a provider, compare the price quotes of multiple medical transcription services on a B2B marketplace. Also ask your friends and other doctors for recommendations.

Most medical transcription service providers offer free trials. Carefully assess vendors’ ability to meet deadlines, accuracy of transcripts, and ease of interaction with their customer service representatives during the trial. Many providers hire a dedicated team of typists for long-term contracts and also offer lower rates. Carefully evaluate your needs, the providers, and the services available before making a decision.